Taxonomic structure of the microbiota of Tunisian Organic Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica Mill) cladodes and fruits and their exploitation through lactic acid fermentation
Di Cagno R
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SubjectOpuntia ficus indica Mill; Plant associated microbiota; Nutritional properties; Lactic acid fermentation; Organic food
Introduction: Organic prickly pear production in Tunisia is constantly increasing, due to its high ecological adaptability to extreme cultivation condition and growing demand for its food and non food products, which guarantees high income. Fruits are characterized by pronounced flavor and high nutritional properties, whereas cladodes are less exploited for human consumption. Recently, beside targeted analytical approaches, non-targeted- holistic approach dealing with nutritional and microbiological characterization of organic products become very important. Objectives: The present study aimed to explore the endophytic and epiphytic cladodes and fruits associated microbiota and to exploit the nutritional and functional properties through lactic acid fermen-tation. Method / Design: Fruits and cladodes were collected in Septem-ber 2014 in Tunisia from three different locations: Jendouba, Kasserine and Le Kef. Cultivars Amles, Chawki and Hbari were investigated. The structure of the microbiota cladodes and fruits associated was explo-red through culture-dependent and independent (pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA targeting RNA) methods of identification. Lactic acid bacteria and yeasts were identified by partial 16S rRNA and 26S rD-NA gene sequences, respectively. Cladodes and fruits were exploited through lactic acid fermentation by selected autochthonous lactic acid bacteria. Chemical, microbiological and functional properties (e.g., flavonols profiles, phenolic content and antioxidant activity) were evaluated. Results: Microbial diversity and community structure showed variability on the axis fruits or cladodes, cultivar or location; whereas functional properties were more in relation to the plant part and cul-tivar and starter used. The setting up of the protocol for processing fruits and cladodes may guaranty improved safety, and nutritional properties. Conclusions: The exploitation of organic products through new approaches presented in this study may contribute to sustainability of Mediterranean diet. Accordingly, nutritional and biotechnological valorization of cladodes and fruits seems to be promising.
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